Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 36

CONQUERING RING NERVES By Diane Peters Mayer What is Anxiety? Anxiety is an aspect of being human, and a normal response to competing in agility. Competition by its very nature is anxiety How Do I producing: you’re being judged as a handler, evaluated and compared to other handlers, and you’re expected to direct your dog to run fast and clean on a course that you have never seen before, in front of an audience. No wonder ring nerves strike many handlers, from novice to experienced. And the more proficient you become, the higher the competition level you reach, the greater the need to perfect your mental game, because technique is equal at those levels: it’s the mental game that counts then. Anxiety is not fear. Fear is something specific and can be described. For example, you’re driving to an agility trial on a twolane highway. Suddenly, a car coming in the opposite direction veers into your lane. In a split second, your brain gets the message that you might be injured or killed, and kick starts a primitive defense system for avoiding bodily harm called the fight or flight response. Adrenaline and other stress hormones flood your body, breathing becomes rapid for increased levels of oxygen, and your arms and hands get the message to quickly swerve your car out of harm’s way. When the danger is over, the Stop Shaking When I Step to the Line? This year Clean Run will publish a series of my articles that contain information and exercises to help nervous handlers conquer ring nerves, as well as offering high-end competitors techniques for reaching peak performance. In this article we’ll look at curtailing anxiety. Out-of-control anxiety is a mind/body experience that negatively affects physical and mental functioning. It stops many handlers from competing well, achieving their goals, being good teammates for their dogs, and just as important, enjoying something they love to do. Do either of these handler stories sound familiar to you? Gerri and her Border Collie began taking agility classes after she realized that BCs need lots of exercise. After the first class, Gerri knew she had found a passion and couldn’t wait to actually compete. They sailed through Novice and Open and Gerri’s dream was to eventually compete at the highest levels. But after they progressed to the Masters and Excellent level, things changed. In the beginning, competing in agility was fun and qualifying seemed a sure thing, but not anymore. Now when Gerri steps to the line her hands shake and her legs tremble. Her heart pounds nearly out of her chest. Days before a trial just thinking about competing makes her stomach churn. During their last trial she couldn’t concentrate or remember the course. She felt humiliated because they couldn’t qualify. And her BC is doing his best, but this is a new Gerri. Her ring nerves leave her unable to direct him around a course. Last time the dog was so confused that he zipped around at breakneck speed, but on his own course. After each disastrous run she swears she’ll give up competing if they don’t qualify next time. Cynthia and her Cocker Spaniel pack up on weekends with Cynthia’s husband as driver and head out to compete in agility. Cynthia loves agility classes and her dog does too. They need one more qualifying score to earn their Open title, which is taking a long time because of Cynthia’s ring nerves. Cynthia gets so worked up that during a recent run her breathing was so shallow that she couldn’t catch her breath. Cynthia had to stop moving for a moment, and her dog refused to come out of the tunnel. Cynthia recently said to her husband, “This was supposed to be fun, but it isn’t!” She just can’t control her anxiety. What Are the Symptoms of Ring Nerves? The symptoms of ring nerves are uncomfortable and if severe can be distressing. What symptoms do you have whenever you think about a trial or during the trial? Are you bothered by problems with sleeping/ nightmares, feeling irritable and tired, overeating/loss of appetite, upset stomach, headaches, or anxiety 36 Clean Run | February 08

Clean Run Magazine - February 2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run Magazine - February 2008

Clean Run Magazine - February 2008
Contents
Editorializing: Barbarians at the Gate?
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
On Course with Annie Lehman
Basic Turns
Trainer’s Forum
Do You Have a Preferred Handling Speed?
Foundation Fundamentals: Dealing with Distractions, Part 2
Case Study: The King of the Off-course
Conquering Ring Nerves: How Do I Stop Shaking When I Step to the Line?
Sports Retraining for Agility Athletes
When Pigs Fly: What Is an Operant Dog? Why Should I Care?
Power Paws Patterns: Number Three
Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Increasing Challenges on the Ball
Spy Kids: Balance in Training
Skill of the Month
When the Click Doesn’t End the Behavior: Conditioning a Release Signal
Shelter Champs: Dunk
Distance Challenge
Letters
Agility Organization Update
Nested Courses for Mardi Gras
Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Clean Run Magazine - February 2008
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 2
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Contents
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 4
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Editorializing: Barbarians at the Gate?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Tip of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Backyard Dogs
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 9
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 10
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 11
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 12
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 13
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - On Course with Annie Lehman
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 15
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 16
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Basic Turns
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 18
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 19
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 20
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 21
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Trainer’s Forum
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 23
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 24
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 25
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Do You Have a Preferred Handling Speed?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 27
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 28
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Foundation Fundamentals: Dealing with Distractions, Part 2
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 30
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 31
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Case Study: The King of the Off-course
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 33
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 34
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 35
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Conquering Ring Nerves: How Do I Stop Shaking When I Step to the Line?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 37
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 38
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Sports Retraining for Agility Athletes
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 40
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 41
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 42
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - When Pigs Fly: What Is an Operant Dog? Why Should I Care?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 44
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 45
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 46
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 47
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 48
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Power Paws Patterns: Number Three
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 50
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 51
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Increasing Challenges on the Ball
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 53
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 54
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 55
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 56
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Spy Kids: Balance in Training
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 58
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 59
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 60
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 61
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Skill of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 63
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 64
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - When the Click Doesn’t End the Behavior: Conditioning a Release Signal
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 66
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 67
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 68
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Shelter Champs: Dunk
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 70
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 71
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 72
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Distance Challenge
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 74
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 75
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 76
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Letters
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 78
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Agility Organization Update
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 80
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 81
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 83
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 84
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